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Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison…
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Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama (2012)

by Alison Bechdel

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1,303829,101 (3.65)97
Recently added byCynthiaTanney1, private library, erinmuse, MSUGITA, Aquila, nicbarnard, liannecollins, dananas
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Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
I have loved Fun Home, and had high hopes for this one - alas, I was disappointed. Where Fun Home was profound and revelatory, this book is whiny, self-absorbed and without a clear narrative. I almost gave up about halfway through; thankfully the second half flows better.

“Are You My Mother?” is about Alison’s therapy sessions; coming to terms with her codependent relationship with her emotionally distant mother. Their neediness and yet distance is the theme: Alison constantly seeks emotional attachment, which her mother is unable to give; her mother constantly needs Alison to dump every detail of her life onto her, without ever having any interest in Alison’s life. While Alison’s father’s struggle was heartwrenchingly tragic, this dynamic is sad, but annoying.

The book is a hot mess in terms of plot, as in, there isn’t any. Her mother calls it a “meta-book”, and indeed, this is an extremely self-referential story: there is a lot about its writing. Alison has trouble settling on a narrative; she jumps around in time, among themes, relationships, therapy sessions, dreams, quotes from Virginia Woolf, and this dude named Winnicott.

A large part of the book is dedicated to Winnicott, a Freud-inspired developmental psychologist of the fifties and sixties, whose work Alison is obsessed with. Winnicott clearly never had children, he completely lacks empathy, and uses god-awful Freudian terminology to describe infant and child development. Thankfully attachment theory has replaced this intellectual, incomprehensible BS.

Nevertheless, it seems to help Alison, whose family, I must admit, seems tailor-made for Freudian analysis. A family of repressed but highly sensitive creative geniuses, who take their feelings of unfulfillment out on each other in different ways, leaves Alison with feelings of anger, guilt, an inadequacy. Her and her mother’s journey towards mutual acceptance and forgiveness is the only arc of the book, and it does feel like they have arrived somewhere together at the end. I just wish she did not use the cringeworthy vocabulary of Winnicott: “At last, I have destroyed my mother, and she has survived my destruction.” Ugh. ( )
  Gezemice | Mar 8, 2019 |
Solipsistic to the extreme, Bechdel says so herself in the pages. Very self-aware. meta. self-indulgent. naval-gazey. This almost threw me off the book, but after thirty pages or so I began to adjust and the story stopped nesting in on itself enough to move forward. Just like Fun Home, this is such a personal story that Bechdel's self-hyphening approach became essential to appreciating it.

I loved how again and again Bechdel would take the story back over the same panels, the same phrasings, reinforcing the theme of psychoanalysis in Are You My Mother?. The parallel stories of Donald Winnicott and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse added further layers to Bechdel's examination of her relationship with her mother and, important, her work - the writing of Fun Home as well as this book being prominent.

I am on a roll with graphic novels lately. Hopefully I won't exhaust the library's collection too soon.

A couple quotes:

"It was only my lesbianism, and my determination not to hide, that saved me from being compliant to the core."

From an [a:Adrienne Rich|29947|Adrienne Rich|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1198772292p2/29947.jpg] essay, "When We Dead Awaken":
"In rereading Virginia Woolf's A Room Of One's Own for the first time in some years, I was astonished at the sense of effort, of pains taken, of dogged tentativeness, in the tone of that essay. And I recognized that tone. I had heard it often enough, in myself and in other women. It is the tone of a woman almost in touch with her anger, who is determined not to appear angry, who is willing herself to
be calm, detached, and even charming in a roomful of men where things have been said which are attacks on her very integrity." ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
2.5 stars

Alison Bechdel’s first graphic novel, “Fun Home”, looked at her growing up and her relationship with her dad. This one was meant to look at her relationship with her mom.

This was not only an analysis of the author’s relationship with her mother, but an analysis of her therapy. Or, that’s what it felt like, anyway. There were plenty of references to Virginia Woolf and a psychoanalyist, Donald Winnicott, as well as quotes. In fact, most of the book felt more like that than looking back at her relationship with her mother, though there was some of that. For that reason, I wasn’t a fan, though I remember really liking her “Fun Home”, so I was disappointed in this one. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 12, 2018 |
As much as I appreciate Fun Home I didn’t like this one much at all. I’m not a fan of psychoanalysis and it features heavily in this book. ( )
  Max_Tardiff | Oct 29, 2018 |
I didn't even finish this one. So sad that the follow up graphic novel to Bechdel's incredible memoir, Fun-Home is indeed a flop. I am about 70% of the way through and I just had to throw in the towel. The story circles around itself while calling in expert opinions of Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. Readers do not get a chance to get close to Allison's feelings and growth as she explores her relationship with her mother but rather it reads like a graduate level dissertation. It is wholly inaccessable and truth be told, boring. ( )
  ambersnowpants | Aug 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
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"For nothing was simply one thing." ~ Virginia Woolf
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For my mother, who knows who she is.
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While engaged in some sort of home-improvement project, I inadvertently block my exit from a dank cellar.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618982507, Hardcover)

From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:12 -0400)

Writer and cartoonist Alison Bechdel writes about her relationship with her mother.

» see all 3 descriptions

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